The Shift Protocol, which systematically reduces and/or eliminates Limiting Beliefs using Reconditioning via Exposure Therapy and employing counter-conditioning…

Here at ShiftGrit, we use the Shift Protocol- a structured therapy program that uses counter-conditioning and evidence-based techniques to establish new perspectives. This creates better, automatic responses for our clients- things like less reactivity, stronger boundaries, healthy assertiveness, smoother communication, improved mood-optimized performance… and many more… The goal of our therapy is to get to the root cause of your concerns, as opposed to just coming up with band-aid solutions.

Reconditioning the responses of the “walnut brain” (pre-evolutionary brain) using psychological techniques similar to classical conditioning. We often use the analogy of rehabilitating a rescue dog afraid of work boots. The goal is to replace the dog’s fear response to work boots with a sense of safety by gradually exposing the dog to the boots in controlled, positive situations. This process parallels the idea of reprocessing traumatic associations in humans, achieved through incremental exposure and controlled responses, known as classical conditioning in reverse.

To do this, we look at some of your early emotional or even traumatic memories. Through Reconditioning, we remove the emotions that are connected to those memories so that when you come across similar situations, you don’t have that same emotional reaction to things that you used to. The hope is that you can lead a more productive and fulfilling life, without all those intrusive thoughts, behaviours, and emotions getting in the way. Humans are capable of amazing things when they don’t have these unhelpful reactions in the way.

exposure therapy & reprocessing

Exposure therapy is a type of psychological treatment that was developed to help people confront their fears and anxieties.

When people are fearful or anxious about something, they tend to avoid the feared objects, activities, or situations. While this avoidance might help reduce feelings of fear in the short term, over the long term, it can make the fear become even worse. Exposure therapy targets this avoidance pattern by exposing individuals to the anxiety source or its context without the intention to cause any danger. Doing so can help them overcome their anxiety or distress.

The exposure component involves repeated, controlled exposure to the source of the fear, anxiety or many other clinical concerns.

For instance, someone with social anxiety might fear public speaking. Exposure might involve imagining giving a speech or actually doing so in a safe, controlled setting. The goal is not to jump into the most feared situation immediately, but to gradually work up to it using a hierarchy of feared situations.

This exposure is done systematically and incrementally, allowing the individual to become habituated to the fear source and, over time, reducing its anxiety-provoking power. With repeated exposure, the brain learns that the fear response is not useful, and the fear or anxiety gradually diminishes.

However, exposure alone might not fully address deeply ingrained, limiting beliefs. An individual might logically understand that public speaking does not pose a threat, yet still feel anxious due to a deep-seated belief of being judged negatively. This is where integration comes in.

Reconditioning helps form new, healthier beliefs about oneself and the world.

This is achieved by coupling the exposure exercises with cognitive restructuring techniques and mindfulness practices.

Cognitive restructuring helps individuals identify, challenge, and modify their limiting beliefs. It involves questioning the evidence for a negative belief, considering alternative perspectives, and developing a balanced and more realistic viewpoint. For instance, an individual might learn to replace the thought “I’m terrible at public speaking, and everyone will judge me” with “I can improve my public speaking with practice, and people are generally supportive and understanding.”

Meanwhile, mindfulness practices can further support the integration of new beliefs. They allow individuals to non-judgmentally observe their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations during exposure exercises, promoting acceptance and reducing emotional reactivity.

Together, exposure and integration can lead to lasting changes in thought patterns, emotions, and behaviours. An individual might start out believing that they are fundamentally inept at social situations, driving them to avoid such scenarios and perpetuating their anxiety. Through the systematic use of reconditioning, they can learn to tolerate and eventually become comfortable in these situations. Simultaneously, they can internalize a new belief that they are capable and deserving of positive social interactions, helping to significantly reduce or even eliminate their social anxiety.

In conclusion, the Shift Protocol’s Reconditioning approach provides a robust method for addressing fear and anxiety. It combines the desensitizing effects of exposure therapy with the belief-transforming power of cognitive restructuring and mindfulness practices. While the path to overcoming anxiety can be challenging, and progress may sometimes be slow, this systematic approach can provide a solid foundation for lasting change.

Shift 101 – Learn the Shift Language

We don’t want to be throwing jargon at you but it’s essential that you have a basic understanding of some of these concepts